A vital set of war medals given to one of Chilliwack's pioneering families will soon return to the Fraser Valley.
Last month, the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society bought a collection of 12 military medals belonging to Lt.-Col. Andrew Leslie Coote and his son, Capt. Ian Vernon Coote. The collection included a written account of the wartime experiences of Andrew Coote's second son, Lieut. Russel Leslie Coote.
The collection was bought at auction for $3,190 (2,000 UK pounds).
The Cootes owned an East Chilliwack farm at the beginning of the 20th Century and gave their name to Coote Street. The military career of Andrew Leslie Coote began prior to the First World War and continued for several decades. Among other medals, both Andrew Leslie and his son Ian were named Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Chilliwack Museum director Ron Denman said the new collection will "be front and centre" in a large exhibit planned for next year to commemorate the start of the Second World War.
"They're important because they come from a family that arrived in Chilliwack in 1890," Denman said. "We're very excited because they represent a military career that really started before The First World War with Leslie Coote and ended after the Second World War. So there's a huge time frame there.
"We know the Coote family's history and to have an intact collection from both father and son is very unusual and is what prompted us to follow up on this one."
The elder Coote-who was in London for the Blitz-was honoured with an OBE for helping organize a home defence militia in British Columbia. The younger was recognized for outstanding administrative duties.
Denman said the museum became aware of the medals on Dec. 10, just seven days before they were set to go up for auction.
Without the resources to buy the set, Denman reached out to the Department of Canadian Heritage, which he said was "absolutely wonderful" in helping the museum quickly secure $1,863 to help bring the collection back to Canada. (The medals had been located in Norfolk, England. Ian Coote, whom Denman believes inherited his father's medals, had remained in Britain following the war.)